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Debt Collection Tactics: What Is Skip Tracing?

Debt Collection Tactics: What Is Skip Tracing? | Brown & Joseph, LLC

Recovery agencies like Brown & Joseph have several debt collection tactics they use to recover debt more efficiently.

Most collection agencies offer advanced tools for debt collection, like skip tracing.

Skip tracing is the process of locating a debtor who has “skipped” or left town, hence the name “skip tracing.”

This is especially helpful for cases in which the debtor hasn’t answered or returned repeated calls and emails.

Even if you have an address to send physical letters to, there’s a good chance that person no longer lives there and hasn’t been receiving your letters.

According to the U.S. Postal Service, almost 30% of all “undeliverable-as-addressed” mail is from people moving to a new home and not leaving a forwarding address or leaving the wrong address.

Therefore, this leaves no way of informing the consumer about the debt and giving them the opportunity to pay it off — before it harms their credit score.

In addition to debt recovery agents, skip tracing is commonly used by private investigators, lawyers, detectives, journalists and bondsmen.

Skip tracing is sometimes erroneously referred to as bounty hunting.

While the two are very different processes, bounty hunters frequently hire skip tracers, which may explain the misconception that the two are synonymous.

Typically, skip tracing is performed in a series of steps.

The first step is to verify the information provided by the client and correct any misinformation. This step also helps the skip tracer familiarize themselves with the subject.

Then, the skip tracer begins to collect as much information about the subject as possible, using public resources such as:

  • Credit Reports
  • Public Records Databases
  • Loan Applications
  • Criminal Background Checks
  • Job Applications
  • Courthouse Records
  • Utility Bills

If none of these resources return helpful information, the skip tracer will then begin to contact current or past acquaintances of the subject, like neighbors, landlords, friends, relatives and coworkers.

Mike McGloon, Litigation and Skip Trace Manager at Brown & Joseph, worked as a private investigator for almost ten years before joining the Brown & Joseph team.

“We utilize everything from electronic data scrubbing and data cleaning, right down to good, old-fashioned detective work on an individual case-by-case basis where it’s needed,” said McGloon.

Before social media and the internet rose to prominence, skip tracers had to do everything manually – traveling to a location, speaking with friends and family, calling references and spending lots of time scouring public records at the library.

But thankfully, with the sheer amount of data available today through the internet, skip tracers are often able to find who they’re searching for in a relatively short amount of time.

Just over the past decade, the amount of resources available to skip tracers has risen exponentially.

Today, open-source databases like LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters abound all over the internet, often for free.

The next time a customer seems to “go off the grid” after failing to pay a bill, consider hiring a collection agency with a skip trace department to help track down your money.

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